Oblivion starts in a prison cell (you are locked in for some kind of unknown crime) in the Imperial City in the province of Cyrodiil of Tamriel. Before your adventure can begin you have to create your character; you can choose different races and select your attributes, birth signs, skills, how you look and so forth. It’s a lot of options to pick from. Do you want to be a magician or a warrior? That’s up to you. Time in jail is short; the emperor and some bodyguards use a secret passage in your cell to flee some assassins and you tag along the same path. The emperor is eventually murdered and you are tasked to find the lost heir of the throne before Oblivion’s creatures take control over the land. The world in the game feels very real, it’s huge and it’s filled with dungeons, houses, caves and towns and what not. It will take a long time to explore everything in the world and it can become a little overwhelming at times. You can travel by foot or horse or use the game’s fast travel option which allows instant travel to a place in the world, but only if you’ve previously been at this location.
Oblivion is a very open ended game with lots of freedom; the moment you step out into the world it’s your choice what to do, be the savior of Tamriel or head of into the wilderness on your own adventure. You are free to do what you want, to explore and discover what Cyrodiil has in store for you. A big part of the game is of course the character development, making spells and upgrading your weapons. Your abilities improve through practice; the more you run, jump and swim will make your athletics better, the more you use your sword the better you become in fighting and so forth. The more you make and use spells, magic items and potions, the better you become in wielding them and of course creating your own spells and magic by creating custom made items.
There are a lot of side-quests. There’s someone in every town that needs your help in some way (and you will be compensated for it too); you can help protect a farm from goblins, solve a mysterious murder or hunt vampires (or become one yourself). There are several guilds you can join, such as paramilitary, thieves, assassins and gladiators. The guilds have their own agenda and will give the player assignments that will allow the player to earn rewards and promotion within the guild. You can get special training, weapons and allies (or foes) from each special guild. And everyone else in the world has their own agenda and things to do and will react to you and events in the world. They spend time talking to each other about various events around the world or just daily life, and often incidents which involve the player will become the topic of conversations. You will overhear conversations which will lead you to quests, people or even treasures. You can have quite an impact on the world through your actions, weather it is heroic or otherwise.